It makes no sense to waste your time and effort looking at homes that you would not be able to afford. A pre-approval letter, which states the dollar amount you can afford to buy is what you need prior to starting to look at homes. The "loan-approval" comes after you have found the right home, in your budget and indicates that a financing institution is preparing to actually lend you the money needed to purchase.
To get "pre-approved" means that a mortgage lender (bank, credit union, broker) has looked over your finances, ran a credit report and based on that information, will give you a dollar amount that you can purchase up to. This pre approveal letter does not mean you have to finance through them when you do find the dream house, you should look around and see who will give you the best rates/terms for your loan before locking in rates with someone. Good luck to you, there are many good prices and properties out there to pick from!
I don't show properties unless buyer is approved no offer is accepted w/o lender approval statement
National Featured Realtor and Consultant, Mortgage Loan Officer, Credit Repair Lecturer
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